1 reply, 2 voices Last updated by  David W. Emery 2 weeks, 2 days ago
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    In todays first reading, Hebrews 12: 18-19, 21-24, it says: “the whole church in which everyone is a ‘first-born son’ and a citizen of heaven.”
    Does this mean that we are not only called to be sons and daughters of God, but that we become first-born by participating in Jesus’ first-born status? Does this mean we are to inherit the Kingdom of God with Jesus and share in the honour and responsibility of being first-born?

    Our lectionary is the Jerusalem bible. I looked it up in the RSV-CE and the sentence reads quite differently. Is it ok to interpret the passage the way I have, or am I reading too much into it?

    (I also posted this on the other website but wasn’t sure it was in the right place so reposting here.)


    David W. Emery
    @David W. Emery

    The Church’s official liturgical norm is to proclaim the literal text; it is then the task of the homily to interpret it. The RSV-CE and the NABRE both give the literal text of the passage. The UK reading, following the original Jerusalem Bible, is attempting to give the sense of it instead of providing the actual text.

    So what does the text mean, where it speaks of “the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven”? The passage as a whole is referring to the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, the Mass. It is depicted as taking place in heaven, according to the Church’s understanding that the liturgy of the Mass is, in fact, a participation of the worship that takes place in heaven. (Compare biblical scholar Scott Hahn’s depiction of the book of Revelation as a liturgy in his work, The Lamb’s Supper.) Now, Jesus Christ is ordinarily the person referred to as the “only-begotten Son of God” (John 1:14) the “first born” of Mary (Luke 2:7), and the “first born of many brethren” (Romans 8:29). But here, it seems that Christian worshipers are being called “first-born.”

    Christ is the natural first-born. But Christians are his mystical Body, the Church. In this sense, they (we!) are He. Therefore, we take on His characteristics, among them the quality of being the first-born of God (and Mary — see Revelation 12:17), in the sense that we receive favored status (the prerogative of the first-born son) in and through Jesus Christ, our Head. Our names are “enrolled in heaven” in the same sense that they are written in the Book of Life. So your hunch was correct: according to our mode of being, we do participate in Christ’s status as “first-born Son.”

    It is better for members to post their questions on the Forum, especially if it is anticipated that the discussion will be rather involved. The Forum was expressly designed for serious discussion, whereas the Community is best used for socializing.


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